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not for profit

Reverse Garbage and their COVID-19 survival story

Reverse garage Entrance with different things

For the past 45 years, Reverse Garbage has been inspiring people to look at waste materials in a different light. Their innovative approach to reducing landfill is the basis of their enduring success. They are truly dedicated to creating a world where nothing is wasted, and over the years they have built an impressive connection to the community.

Like many other non profit organisations, they have experienced challenges during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, but as restrictions start to lift, they are welcoming a return to semi normalcy.

We spoke with Naomi Brennan, the CEO of Reverse Garbage, about their recent experiences and how their relationship with Accounting For Good (AFG) has helped them navigate the difficult time.

People buying in a garage store

Established by teachers

The Marrickville based not for profit organisation was originally established in 1975. It was founded by a group of teachers and community workers who wanted to find a way to reduce the amount of industrial waste being sent to landfill.

“Their plan was to divert industrial discards from landfill and reuse those materials in their classrooms. To this day, education is a major focus for our reuse resources.

Each year we redirect around 250 tonnes of commercial and industrial discards from landfill to a new life with educators, artists, upcyclers, DIY enthusiasts, tinkerers, set builders, window dressers, community organisations, festivals, charities and more. Our vision is to inspire everyone to make reuse their first choice.”

Yellow footsteps with number 1.5m

The impact of COVID

The 2019-20 financial year was looking great for Reverse Garbage, but Naomi explains how in March everything changed:

“We were having a sensational year… then in the third week of March our turnover dropped by 25%, and in the fourth week it had dropped by 50%. Following that, April was completely horrific… understandably, there was a lot of fear; people were very uncertain.

We checked that we were legally entitled to keep trading and we remained open during the restrictions. We implemented new hygiene protocols and made safety adjustments, but we traded a very quiet month in April. It would be fair to say that I was extremely worried.”

Woman holding a tablet while talking to a man in front of her

Assistance from Accounting For Good

When the April financial outlook was bleak, Naomi reached out to Accounting For Good for additional assistance. Naomi discusses how this help was extremely beneficial:

“I sought assistance from AFG… particularly with cash flow analysis and future projections based on our current trading level. It was definitely additional support that I would not normally need… but they were really willing to help.

I have no doubt that every client they have asked similar questions during that time and they managed to put in the resources to make sure we got all the answers. I was really happy with how they supported us.

We have been able to access JobKeeper and received the Cash Boost, plus we have applications with the State Government for their assistance. AFG explained the Cash Boost to us and kept us up to date. All their assistance has meant we have kept our nose above water.”

Different things inside the boxes

As restrictions lift

In May, Naomi felt a shift within the business. She continues:

“It was clear to me that the level of anxiety and fear in the community was starting to lift. Our numbers started to increase… and thankfully now we are back to around 70%.

We are not back to normal by any stretch, but we are slowly coming back. Our education arm remains closed as schools are not having any incursions or excursions… but we have been able to use this time to do a lot of planning and preparatory work for this area of the business.

I’m just glad that we had the support from AFG when the chips were falling in a way that I’ve never experienced in my entire professional life. I’ve never been managing a business when the whole world changed in a fortnight!”


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